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How to Dye Wood for a Bird Toy

| Updated September 26, 2017

Making toys for pet birds can save you a lot of money at the pet store. With a few simple items, some creativity and time, you can create unique and safe toys for your bird in a range of colors. The easiest and safest ways to dye wood for bird toys involve food coloring, cake icing coloring and tempera paint.


  • Choose wood pieces based on the size of bird. For example, clothespins (without metal hinges) or blocks suit larger birds like cockatoos, macaws and African grey parrots. Coin-sized wood circles, buttons and beads suit smaller birds like cockatiels, parakeets and lovebirds.

Food Coloring

Food coloring produces a transparent tint to wood. It usually comes in a box of four colors: red, blue, yellow and green. Mix the food coloring to create other colors like orange and purple.

Pour enough water in a bowl to cover the wood.

Mix drops of food coloring with the water until the desired color appears.

Place the wood pieces into the color mixture and leave for 24 hours.

Remove the wood from the bowl and let dry.

Cake Icing Color

Craft stores that sell baking supplies usually carry special food grade gel dye for tinting icing. The icing color comes in a greater range of colors than food coloring and produces vividly colored wood pieces. With its gel consistency, only a small amount of color is needed to dye wood.

Put a tablespoon of water in a clean bowl.

Dip a toothpick into the desired gel dye color and mix with the water. Add more color if necessary.

Paint the mixture onto the wood with a clean brush.

Let the wood dry.

Tempera Paint

Find tempera paint in the children's section of arts and crafts supply stores. Make sure the paint is labeled "non-toxic."

Choose a color or mix colors together.

Paint wood with a clean brush.

Let the wood dry.

Making Toys

Once the wood dries, make some toys for your bird. Include additional materials like sisal rope, vegetable tanned leather pieces and raffia. Birds see color very well, so create colorful playthings to entertain feathered friends. Use the dyed wood pieces to create toys such as:

  • Foot toys: larger birds often like to hold things with their feet.  Dyed blocks make easy, simple foot toys.
  • Hanging toys: Pull sisal rope through holes in dyed wood buttons or beads and dangle the creation from the top of the bird's cage.


  • Choose safe woods for bird toys. Most wood from craft stores is safe, but don't collect wood from outdoors; it could contain pesticides or other harmful materials.